High Cholesterol Diet
As you move from a diet high in cholesterol to a healthier eating plan, be sure to decrease the amount of animal products in your diet. A lot of animal products are high in both cholesterol and saturated fats. Saturated fats actually raise blood cholesterol more than cholesterol itself. Foods high in cholesterol or saturated fat include:
- Visibly fatty red meat
- Organ meat
- Processed meat (such as salami and bologna)
- Other high-fat meats (such as sausage and bacon)
- Egg yolks
- Ice cream.
The following are some suggestions for cutting back on animal products that are common to high cholesterol diets:
- Try substituting skim (fat-free) or low-fat (1 percent) milk and cheese and low-fat or nonfat yogurt
- To keep your blood cholesterol level low, choose only the leanest meats, poultry, fish, and shellfish
- Instead of butter, use liquid or soft margarine or vegetable oils that are low in saturated fat and contain little or no trans fat
- Use egg whites (which have no cholesterol) instead of egg yolks
- Use high-protein plant-based foods, such as soy, tofu, and edamame.
As mentioned earlier, saturated fats are the main cause of increased cholesterol in a diet. Another type of fat, called trans fatty acid (trans fat), has also been shown to increase the level of LDL ("bad" cholesterol), although not as much as saturated fats. Trans fat also decreases HDL (the "good" cholesterol).
Trans fat is found in foods such as:
- Vegetable shortening
- Salad dressing
- Baked goods
- Fried foods
- Many processed foods.
You can tell if a food contains trans fat by looking at the ingredient list on the food label. If the ingredient list includes the words "shortening," "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil," or "hydrogenated vegetable oil," the food contains trans fat. Because ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance, smaller amounts are present when the ingredient is close to the end of the list. You can also tell if a food contains trans fat by looking under "fat" on the food label. Trans fat is often listed just after saturated fat.
Some suggestions for decreasing saturated fats and trans fat that are associated with a diet that is high in cholesterol include the following:
- Learn to read food labels. Food labels provide valuable information. An informed consumer is able to make better, heart-healthy food choices.
- Substitute other types of fats. In order to maintain a low cholesterol diet, choose "good" fats high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, peanut oil, and avocados.
- Buy margarine made with unsaturated liquid vegetable oils as the first ingredient. Choose soft tub or liquid margarine or vegetable oil spreads.
- Limit butter, lard, fatback, and solid shortenings. They are high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Buy light or nonfat mayonnaise and salad dressing instead of the regular varieties that are high in fat. For example, two tablespoons of regular Italian dressing can add as many as 14 grams of fat.